Flattery Gets You Nowhere
Lord God, You are good, You are righteous, and You are Lord. You have every right to rule my life.
Read Mark 12:13-17
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
“Jesus said the coin bearing the emperor’s image should be given to the emperor. But whatever bears God’s image–our lives–belongs to God” (Life Application Bible).
We usually know when a person makes a genuinely approving comment, and when they have a hidden agenda. Jesus saw right through the hypocrisy of couching a deliberate trap in flattering terms. This delegation of leaders actually spoke the truth; Jesus was indeed a person of integrity, not deferential to the status or opinions of others and focused on God’s truth. His opponents expected their tricky question would trip him up. Jesus confounded their hypocrisy with an amazingly wise answer, but not before letting them know that he perceived their intentions.
Jesus’ strategy was clever, although in the context of his whole ministry not unexpected, as he often included things around him to shed light on a particular teaching. The answer to this question lay in perusing the coin used to pay the imperial tax. When Jesus asked to see a denarius (worth a day’s wages), his questioners had to admit it bore Caesar’s inscription. Coins with the emperor’s image had come into popular use in Roman territories in the time of Augustus, several decades earlier. Since then there had been unease, even revolt, against the tax imposed by the Roman emperor on his subjects in Israel. So the issue of the payment of the imperial tax was a genuine dilemma in the cultural context: for Jesus to suggest they refuse to pay it would antagonize the pro-Roman political leaders (including Herodians); to suggest they paid it would further alienate the anti-Roman religious leadership (including Pharisees). Even reluctant use of Caesar’s coinage indicated de facto submission to the social advantages of his rule; the coins rightfully belonged to him and should be returned (Rom. 13:1,2,6,7). Of parallel importance to Jesus was that those who called themselves God’s people, made in his image, should give back to God what he rightly owned–their lives (Rom.12:1,2).
How do you determine where your allegiance lies in areas of potential conflict? Are you giving God what is rightfully his?
Lord, I need wisdom for daily living. Help me distinguish between the important and the urgent, the good and the best, this worldly kingdom and Your Kingdom rule.